South Carolina boaters and swimmers urged to “Stay Off and Stay Out” of the water

7th Coast Guard District NewsCHARLESTON, S.C. – With Hurricane Irene approaching, the Coast Guard is urging boaters and swimmers to stay off and stay out of the water until the storm has passed and sea states return to normal.

Hurricane Irene is expected to bring gale force winds, and inland waterways are expected to be choppy. Conditions are expected to worsen as Hurricane Irene gets closer.

“Our primary concern is the safety of the boating community and recreational swimmers,” said Capt. Michael White, Coast Guard Sector Charleston commander. “The safest thing to do with these types of expected conditions is to stay off and stay out of the water.”

Boaters should take necessary precautions to ensure their personal safety due to strong gusty winds associated with the outer weather bands of Hurricane Irene. Heavy seas, significant rain and damaging winds may accompany Hurricane Irene and present serious dangers to boaters. Rescue and assistance by the Coast Guard and other agencies may be degraded as Hurricane Irene approaches.

The Coast Guard also reminds boaters to secure their vessel before the storm arrives. Adding additional mooring lines is highly recommended.

Boaters should also ensure that any gear above deck be properly stowed and secured. Loose gear or an unsecured boat could appear as a debris field and could trigger an unnecessary search by the Coast Guard.

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